What Healthcare Reform Means for You

President Obama recently signed historic legislation to make healthcare available and affordable to millions of Americans. Here�s how the new law could affect you.

CHILDREN
Children with pre-existing medical conditions will have access to coverage. Starting this September, children with pre-existing conditions can’t be denied inclusion on their parents’ health insurance plan. It will also no longer be permissible for insurers to insure a child while excluding treatments for his or her pre-existing condition.

ALL CONSUMERS
Consumers will be able to more easily fight a claim denial.  By September, all new health plans must have a clear process under which the insured can appeal claims or decisions regarding coverage. Also, a federal health insurance consumer assistance office will be created to help consumers enroll in a plan or file a complaint.

Taxpayers

Roughly 1 million individuals earning more than $200,000 and roughly 4 million couples filing jointly who make more than $250,000 can expect to pay higher Medicare taxes, according to the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. There’s also a new Medicare tax on unearned income from investments.

Richard and Arvenita Cherry are among those couples who are likely to see a considerable increase in their tax bill. The Cherrys’ combined annual household income comes to about $178,000, plus another $120,000 in rental income from five townhouses they own in Maryland.

The couple has healthcare insurance through Richard’s job as a marketing specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. Arvenita, an anthropologist with her own consulting firm, says she couldn’t afford an individual policy since she’s self-employed and had a pre-existing condition (rotator cuff injury for which she has since had an operation). In addition to the $574 a month that the couple shells out for insurance premiums, an additional $1,200 a year is taken out of Richard’s salary for Medicare taxes. Under new healthcare reform, the Cherrys could end up paying roughly an extra $1,800 a year in Medicare taxes because of the unearned income from the rental properties.

The 34-year-olds view healthcare reform as a necessary measure to aid the nation’s uninsured population. “Some people in higher income brackets may feel they are being penalized,” says Arvenita. “If you are in that threshold you are not going to be missing or lacking anything by paying more taxes while other people are struggling and dying because they don’t have healthcare.”

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